'em up with
Taylor, part 2
Mosconi, Fats, Frankie Boughton and others...
2004 Steve Booth, OnePocket.org
the best early Bank Pool players he ever faced:
Bob Bowles and Charlie Jones were the two best
Bank Pool players that I ever saw; they were just tops. It was between
those two and myself as to who was the best banker going into the
40's and the 50's. I played Charlie for like twelve days once. It
started off that after five or six hours there'd be one game difference,
then two. Then finally at the end I was beating him.
last time I played him he came in to the Phoenix Hotel and said,
'Come on, I'll play you for fifty a game', and I was flat broke
from the racetrack. I said, 'Charlie, there's nobody here to put
up the money, they're all at the track.' Only Don Decoy was there,
and Joe Cremins from Cincinnati and the guy on the cashier's desk.
Don Decoy probably had seven or eight hundred dollars in his pocket,
but he wouldn't even stake himself if it was over twenty dollars
a game -- he'd get staked and then never miss a ball. I knew there
was no need of asking him. So Don Decoy comes over to me and says
'I'll let you play him a hundred dollars worth at twenty-five a
game.' I liked to have fainted and so did Joe! So I told Charlie,
'I've got a hundred dollars, Charlie, if you want to play some for
twenty-five a game.' And he says, 'Okay, come on Eddie.' I told
him that as soon as the guys come in from the track we can play
I won the first game and he said 'Bet you fifty.' Of course everybody
put up back then, so I said, 'Get it up.' Don Decoy didn't even
fall off his chair; it's a miracle that he didn't. We went on and
played thirteen games and I won twelve of them, and Charlie banked
eight and out the game he won.
we got up to the room, I had won $525, and I said to Don, 'Joe's
broke, lets give him this twenty-five.' He didn't really want to
but I gave it to him anyhow. Then Joe says to me, 'You know Eddie,
in those thirteen games you missed one ball that you shot at in
thirteen games.' I said, 'Oh, man, come on, I was in a trance.'
And Don Decoy spoke up and said, 'That's right Eddie, you missed
one ball in thirteen games - that you shot at.' That was in the
Phoenix Hotel in Lexington, Kentucky and that had to be about 1947.
Minnesota Fats (aka New York Fats; Rudolf Wanderone):
How well did Fats play One Pocket back
when he was younger?
Fats had a very good game of One Pocket, but he
wasn't really considered tops. I was with Hubert Cokes one day in
Johnston City, and he said 'Why don't you play Fats some?' I had
money in my pocket, but I said, 'Fats wants 9 to 7; I can't give
him that.' But Cokes wanted to stake me to play him $200 a game.
I said, 'I've got a pocketful, but I don't want to play for yours
if I wouldn't play for my own, and I don't like the game.' But he
just kept on, so I said okay, and we played. So the first game he
banked something, and he ran seven and out. The next game I ran
nine and out. The next game he ran seven and out again. So I quit
and said 'You've got 10 to 8 if you want it, Fats.' But he didn't
and Fats played several times. I played Fats in my hometown when
I was 14 years old and I think Fats was about 20 or 21. We played
a game of Banks and a game of One Pocket for two dollars and a half
a game and we played all night and broke even.
on, when I had a billiard room in St. Petersburg, Florida
I got Fats to come down for the American Cancer Society. We
were very, very close friends, and I told him I couldn't pay
him but expenses. But Fats said, 'Eddie, you don't have to
give me nothing, I'll come down.' So he did, and the place
was packed and everything went great. The next day there were
two reporters, and we went to an Italian restaurant a couple
of doors away, and they were interviewing Fats while I was
sitting there with him. Fats was telling them 'Eddie here
is the greatest Bank Pool player that ever lived, but my game
was One Pocket. Once upon a time, me and Eddie played for
three days and three nights for five hundred a game and broke
dead even.' That night I went back and told my wife, 'Vi,
I just got the greatest compliment I ever got in my life.'
'What's that?' she said. 'Well Fats just said we played for
three days for five hundred a game and broke dead even.' You
know, nobody ever broke even with Fats!
you asked me if I meant to say 'a game of Banks and a game
of Rotation' - but there was one young man back home who wasn't
really a home boy, and I had seen him play One Pocket, and
I had even played him a couple of times, just fooling around.
It was nothing really. I knew what it was and all, but I really
didn't start playing the game until Earl Shriver came along.
For a long time I'd shoot to the wrong pocket. I don't know
how many times I did that! I still do that occasionally when
I play with my friend. He'll say, 'Eddie, that's the wrong
pocket!' I've done that a hundred times. And then of course
I'd naturally overlooked scratches. But I finally got over
that. I think anybody that is learning to play One Pocket
always overlooks scratches.
Washington DC in 1945 I played Fats for fifty a game - a game of
Banks and a game of One Pocket , and I beat him out of five hundred.
So he said, 'Come to Philadelphia tomorrow and I'll play for a hundred.'
I said 'Where are we going to play - there's blue laws on Sundays
in effect and there's no place open.' But he said, 'Yeah, there's
one place open.' The guy that used to be the manager of the Chicago
White Sox had a place with billiard tables downstairs - all 5x10's.
Of course when we played in Washington they were 4-1/2x9's. Fats
thought the 5x10's might affect my play, but really I played the
best pool in my life on big old 5x10's. So what actually happened
was, I met him the next day, and for the first two hours he was
beating me at Banks and I was beating him at One Pocket! But after
that I came out ahead.
Fox, who wrote the Minnesota Fats book, also had a big article
about me. This was in True Magazine. They sent two guys down
from New York - two cameramen - and when I walked in the poolroom
I thought they were shooting a movie or something. I told
them, 'I've got plenty of pictures', but they took about 50
or 60 pictures. Then about a week later this lady called me
to ask 'Would you be available to shoot some more?' I said
I would, and they sent those same two guys back down. I took
them out to this guy's house that had a real nice setup and
we all wound up getting half-drunk while they took some more
pictures. Then later on they put in the article 'I'll shoot
your eyes out.' I called them up and practically cussed them
out. Tom Fox said, 'Eddie, I'm sorry as I could be, but I
didn't have anything to do with that.' I told him I thought
that was so vulgar - 'I'll shoot your eyes out'.
used to have the book he wrote about Fats - he gave it to
me and signed it for me, but I don't know what happened to
it. Maybe I loaned it to somebody or somebody took it. It's
no real big deal, but Fats had given it to me and autographed
it for me.
I read that book; it was pretty funny. I never met
Fats, so it was a nice read.
Fox's Fats book, published by
World Publishing Company 1966
Now you won't believe this. In 1961 Mosconi and
Jimmy Caras were playing exhibitions in Cleveland, Ohio. There was
a place on Euclid downstairs where the action was, but they were
playing at a place upstairs about two blocks from there, and I went
and watched them and they put on a tremendous show.
next night after that I walked into this place on Euclid and I saw
Mosconi there watching something on TV, so I went over to him and
I said, 'Pardon me sir, but can I ask you a couple questions?' He
said, 'Sure'. So I said, 'Would you tell me why they play that Straight
Pool call shot game instead of making the ball hit the cushion before
it goes in the pocket?' I told him I lived in a little town about
35 miles away from Cleveland, and I said, 'You know, all we ever
play, we call it bank-a-ball , where the ball has to hit the cushion
before it goes in the pocket.' And I said, 'We got little kids over
there that can run forty or fifty balls at Straight Pool; it just
seems like such an easy game.' I said, 'But that bank-a-ball , we
play that for fifty or a hundred dollars a game all the time; in
fact I'd be willing to play you some of that.'
he was sizzling! He said, 'Let me tell you something, son; Straight
Pool is the most scientific game there is.' He was so mad he was
going to play me some Banks for a hundred dollars a game. I didn't
have a stick - I always played with one out of the rack anyhow,
even though I had two or three sticks in the trunk of my car, but
I never used them unless I was playing another good player that
already knew me. So I went to the rack for a stick and when I got
back to the table he said, 'You're a little late, Taylor.' He knew
of me, but he didn't know me personally.
So somebody told him who you were.
Yeah. So later, they were having this thing in
Detroit at Detroit Recreation -- which at that time was the largest
poolroom in the world - they had this thing, 'Beat the Champ' for
thirteen weeks. They had four tables and it cost a dollar a chance
and you broke the balls wide open and then ran as many balls as
you could, and whoever had the high run on Sunday got to play Mosconi
the following Saturday.
there was a Polish guy, Ed Santiniak, or something like that,
who had a nice bar with bar tables, and earlier I had gone
down there and lost forty dollars, and I said 'I'll be back
tomorrow night; I get paid tomorrow night.' So the next night
I went back and won about seven hundred, with this guy Ed
backing most it. Anyway, we ended up being good friends, and
I took him down to the black poolrooms where they played Banks
- they had some good Bank Pool players there - and he went
with me and got a big kick out of it. But the wind-up was
we went down there [to
Detroit Recreation] to watch them play.
had bleachers where you could watch these people taking their
dollar-a-chance. I wasn't about to get in that; that would
have been the last thing in the world. Well Ed wanted me to
get in the dollar-a-chance game, but I said, 'No, I can't
do that.' But the second or third time we were sitting there
and all of a sudden it came over the loud speaker, Eddie Taylor,
next. I said to Ed, 'What the hell's he talking about?' That's
when he said, 'Eddie, I gave him five dollars for you to play.
Please go out there and play.' So I did, and I ran eight,
and I ran twelve, and six, but the fifth time, I ran 61 balls.
role in 'The Hustler'
this thing had been going on for six weeks and the high run was
44. Actually, when I ran fifty I didn't mean to run no more, but
I played out of position to where I had to cut this ball backwards
and I figured I'd never make it, but I did make it and broke open
the balls and ended up running 61. Now what happened was they all
stopped playing; all four tables stopped because they're not going
to try to beat that 61.
me and Ed leave and go back down to The Hole on Woodward - that's
where the action was - and we're setting there talking, and here
comes a guy that I knew and he comes over and says 'Eddie, after
you left they disqualified you and they all started playing again,
and the manager wants to see you.' Well Ed was really mad and said,
'Don't take nothing; I'm going to stop the damn thing.' Because
it was supposed to be open to anybody that wasn't in a World's Tournament,
and at that time I hadn't entered anything like that. The first
tournament I played in was in Macon, Georgia, in 1961 I think it
was. So we went back up there and I went into the manager's office,
and first he says, 'I'm sorry Mr. Taylor, but I just talked to Mr.
Mosconi in Philadelphia and he refuses to play you because he says
you're a hustler.' Now he had already played Cornbread Red one week,
and Eddie Beauchene - Detroit Whitey - another week. He was just
mad because of what happened back in Cleveland.
So he ducked you twice!
So now, the guy started offering me money.
First he wanted to give me my five dollars back. But I said
no, since Ed had said he was going to stop the whole thing.
Next thing I know, he's offering me two hundred dollars. Then
it goes to three hundred, and I keep going back out to tell
Ed, 'You know I really don't want to do anything to hurt pool.'
So I went back and the guy offered me five hundred dollars;
I had him over a barrel. At that point Ed said, 'Stick that
five hundred in your pocket.'
So they paid you $500 not to play him!
I didn't really want to get in it anyway; I wasn't looking
for any advertising at that time. I would have rather played
down in The Hole , where I was playing Babyface [Alton
Whitlow] and everybody else.
I had been on
the road with Babyface around Cincinnati and a couple
other places. He came up to my room and brought a bottle and
we had a couple drinks and went back down in The Hole
and he wanted to play me 8-7 or 9-7 or something and
I beat him out of a few dollars, and he said I got him drunk,
but he brought the bottle up to my room! But all in all we
were good friends.
later on they had this Straight Pool tournament in Burbank, California
where Mosconi got paid five or ten thousand to come out of retirement
-- and you might remember this -- Joe Balsis beat Mosconi in the
finals. So I'm in that tournament, and when I walked in the practice
room, Mosconi was over by the wall, but he came running across the
room and says, 'Hi Eddie, how are you doing?' Like we were the greatest
of friends, and he had refused to play me! Can you believe that?
in 1969, I think it was, when me and Red Jones were getting ready
to open a room in St. Petersburg, Mr. Baker -- that owned the billiard
room in Tampa -- says to me 'Would you be willing to play Mosconi
for a week?' But I said, 'I don't think Mosconi would want to play
me', although I had played him in that tournament in Burbank, and
he beat me. But he said, 'Well, let's call him up and see.'
Mr. Baker called him up - it's a twenty-five hundred dollar challenge
match - and he asked him, 'Would you be willing to play Eddie Taylor
for a week.' So he said, 'Yeah, I'll play him Straight Pool and
9-Ball .' Now listen to this - you're not going to believe what
I'm going to tell you - he would not come unless we split the money,
and he was so far ahead of me at Straight Pool!
he finally came, and that's what we played. We played every night,
and during the day we played golf and he saw how well-respected
I was. There happened to be two fellows down there at two different
golf courses that were from my hometown, Knoxville, Tennessee, that
I knew real well, and they would set up partners golf matches for
us because they knew I liked to gamble. Then we went to this millionaire's
home for dinner and all this, and Mosconi saw how much I was respected
and he just couldn't believe it.
So you gambled at golf too.
We'd play golf in the daytime, and at night we'd
play pool on this nice table -- just re-covered -- in the tournament
room. Now this table -- I never saw another one like it. It had
leather rails with silver dollars where the diamonds were. Did you
ever see one?
Well, it was the only one I ever saw in my life.
A very, very good table, and that's the one we played on. Mosconi
wasn't missing anything and he was still complaining about the table.
Mr. Baker got so mad! He had a motel over by the airport where Mosconi
was staying, and he wasn't even going to charge him - Mosconi had
no business knocking the table like that.
Eddie Taylor exhibition poster
that time the Brunswick people were suing him and he couldn't
appear on TV. I was on a couple of times in the morning shooting
two or three trick shots; but he couldn't do that at that
time, because Brunswick was suing him. If anything went wrong
he used to say, 'This damn table - they ought to make kindling
out of it', or stuff like that. Anyhow, he had me about 700
to 200. But the last day, I had won $160 at the golf, I'll
never forget it, and we used to go have dinner afterwards,
and everything was beautiful, and that night we played and
so help me God I ran over a hundred three times, which was
really a lot for me - I'm not a Straight Pool player.
Do you remember how it turned out against Mosconi?
We broke about even in the 9-ball, but
in the Straight Pool of course he had me. He'd run balls until
you'd get sick watching him run balls. Like Mike Eufemia;
every time he'd start practicing he'd run 300 at least.
I was talking to Onofrio Lauri and he said, 'He's
an amazing guy when he's practicing - he runs 300, 400, 350, but
when he plays in a World's Tournament, he don't do no good at all.'
In Las Vegas in 1967 he beat Joe Balsis twice to win the Straight
Pool [The Straight Pool division of the Stardust tournament].
I lost my fanny betting on Joe Balsis both times in that.
I had to play him in the playoffs after he just got through running
350 balls in the practice room. Danny Jones won the 9-ball , I won
the One Pocket and Mike Eufamia won the Straight Pool . So we had
to play each other One Pocket, 9-Ball and Straight Pool .
was a guy named Joe Bernstein who was a high roller and he
always bet on me. When I won, he'd always stick a hundred
dollar bill in my vest pocket and say, 'Have a drink, Eddie,
on me.' So Mike just got through running three hundred balls,
and Joe knew I didn't play Straight Pool, because it was a
bad game to hustle. I could have played it if I played it.
Anyway, he saw Mike run those 350 balls, so he had to get
some odds. Then when I played him I think his high run was
probably 18 or 20, and I beat him something like 125 to 32
or something like that. It was a joke! That's when Onofrio
Lauri told me that story.
Mike asked me if I wanted to practice with him, when I was
getting ready to play my tournament match. I racked the balls
about seven or eight times until I said, 'I don't believe
I want to practice any more, Mike.'
I've read that even Mosconi said something like
it was necessary to become hardened by gambling when you're
younger in order to be tough enough for tournament competition.
I think that's what helped me a lot --
being a good money player. Because I never had enough for
maybe one or two games, I was always playing under pressure.
He was in Tuscaloosa, where Squirrel's
[Marshall Carpenter] from, and he called me up because he thought
he had some action. But I said, 'Ti, they know me down there about
like Coca-Cola.' But he said 'Oh, come on down; I'll pay your expenses.'
So I knocked on the door when I got there and he said, 'Who is it?'
I told him who it was and when I came in I saw what he was doing.
There was a bunch of skeleton keys on the floor and this chair sitting
there, and you could tell he'd been sitting there throwing keys
at the door. I said, 'What are you doing, Ti?' It was an old hotel,
a nice hotel, but an old hotel with those big old skeleton locks,
and he said 'I'm trying to see if I can throw one of these keys
into the lock.' I said, 'Ti, are you kidding? Have you ever got
one in there yet?' And he said, 'No, but I've got three or four
to hang!' I could not believe it! Every time after that I always
asked him, 'Did you ever get one of them keys in there?' He said,
'Yeah, I finally got one.'
He was full of propositions, wasn't he?
Yeah he was, you're right. I sent Kelley
[BCA Hall of Famer, Ed Kelley] out there, and he had Kelley
dress up in some gas station uniform or something. He won
about two thousand. When Ti was in Dallas he was always calling
me to send him somebody who wasn't known. I did send him three
or four guys. But he was a hell of a man.
I've heard that he was the one person that maybe
could out talk Fats.
Oh yeah, and that would take a good one, too. I
went around with him some, and we'd go out to some nice restaurant
- I'm talking about nice - and he'd tell jokes that if I'd
have told the same joke they'd have probably called the police
on me! But he'd tell them and get away with it. He dressed
like a banker, and he could just get away with those things.
He was a tremendous joke teller. If you were around him, your
side would be hurting.
with fellow members of the Billiard Congress of America Hall
of Fame, Ewa Mataya and Ed Kelley
There was only one other guy that could do that
to me and that was Frankie Boughton.
Oh yeah, from San Francisco.
He was the champion of all; I'm telling you,
he was phenomenal. Me and another fellow and Frankie had just come
from booking the horses and we were all broke. We were standing
out in front of this hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. Frankie was
always well dressed - he always wore a suit and tie and maybe a
hat - and he saw this man coming and he cut into him and they got
to talking. Next thing you know, they're going into the hotel together.
Well me and Sam were watching and we went in after they went in
to see what was going on. So we saw them go over to the cage, and
we saw the man give something to Frankie - we don't know what it
we went back outside and about a minute later here comes Frankie,
and so we asked him what in the hell he did, and he showed us fifty
dollars. Sam said, 'What in the hell did you do, Frankie?' He says,
'I just told him I was broke from playing the horses, and that I
was one of the best poker players around and I need like fifty dollars
to get in the game.' Now this was about 1940 or something like that,
and he got fifty dollars off the guy; of course I'm sure the guy
never got his fifty back. He used to put ads in the paper with propositions
for selling razor blades or something, but the first horse bookie
he could get to, he'd be broke.
was a tremendous player, and he had a scrapbook full of where
he'd won this or that. He
always carried that scrapbook, and he had run something like
275 balls playing Line-up . I'd watch him go in a pawnshop
with nothing but his scrapbook. When I looked in there, the
guy behind the counter would be in shock standing there with
his mouth open. Even after Frankie came out with the money,
the guy was still standing there with his mouth open - he
didn't know what hit him!
But he came out with money every time?
Yeah, he was an amazing guy, and a good
player, but he matched up bad. If
there ever was anybody who could get blood out of a turnip,
he could get it.
It's not how good you play, it's how good you match
up. Spotting too much burns up the action. I always played
just well enough to win, that way I could come back later.
I hated following other players that spotted too much. The
only time I gave up big spots was if I had a chance to win
big money. But I still usually came out on top.
walked into the billiard room in San Francisco in 1953 - they had
the World's Pocket Billiard tournament there - and Frankie was the
manager of the Downtown Bowl. When I walked I said, 'How're you
doing, Frankie?' He said, 'I owe thirty-six loan companies.' I said,
'That's impossible, Frankie; nobody on earth could owe thirty-six
loan companies!' Well he showed me thirty-six loan books. Now, they're
garnishing his wages so his wife wound up being the manager.
owner of the Downtown Bowl - which was a huge place, with bowling
upstairs and downstairs and twenty pocket billiard tables. They
had two bars and a lunch counter. It was a huge place. The owner
had barred him from playing pool for money. He was a great showman;
he could start shooting trick shots and telling jokes and in five
minutes you couldn't get close to the table - that's how good an
entertainer he was. When I got there he had lost $200,000 for backers
in one year. One Chinese fellow was suing him $60,000 that Frankie
lost for him, so he can't play nobody for money.
and Lassiter stayed out there in 'Frisco for about seven months.
Finally after about three or four months the guy that owned
the place told Frankie he could play for money again. I always
gave Frankie a ball playing One Pocket , and these two guys
were going to stake Frankie, and we were going to play for
$150 a game. What happened was, his wife Evelyn wasn't going
to let him play; she said, 'Oh no, you're not going to rob
him anymore.' Because I had beat him every time I'd played
him. She said, 'The only way I'm going to let him play is
if you give me twenty-five percent of your action.' I said,
'You've got it, Evelyn.' So I beat him out of nine-fifty and
gave her two and a quarter and she said, 'Come on Eddie, I'll
buy you a steak.' So Frankie said, 'Well what about me?' She
said, 'I'll bring you a hamburger.' Now that's a true story
whether you believe it or not.
You mentioned a fellow named Sam that you were with in
Nashville along with Frankie Boughton.
That was Sam Crotzer. He was kind of like a brother
to me. He was the only one I was really on the road with much. Most
of the time I went just by myself because - well, I don't know why;
I just did.
Was that Nashville Sam, also known as Okie
Yeah, it was. You got that right, Okie Sam. I
don't know how he got that name. I think he got that name because
when he went to California he probably told them he was from Oklahoma.
That's what Norm Webber told me.
Oh, I know how you got that! When Sam and I split
up in Kansas City - it was Christmas time, and I said, 'Sam, I'm
going home for Christmas.' And Sam didn't drive, but he said, 'Well,
I don't think I'm going; I'm going west.' His father had died so
he didn't really have a home to go to. He wound up in San Francisco.
They used to have those ring games on the 6x12 Snooker table, and
Sam played good on those 6x12's. I could never play a lick on those
6x12's, but Sam played good. I heard he was doing great. That's
when I first met Norm Webber, in San Francisco. I met him in 1962
in SF. But Sam, he was kind of like a brother to me.
he retired from competition:
After I turned 58 I had problems with my eyes.
One night Beenie [Bill 'Weenie Beenie' Staton] had a little
tournament - it didn't really amount to anything -- when I was living
just out of DC in Maryland. That room Beenie had was real nice;
at five o'clock in the morning you couldn't get a table - that's
how busy that place was. I was supposed to play this kid, but all
of a sudden as I'm watching him knock balls around, I couldn't see
the balls, they seemed real fuzzy to me. My wife went across the
street and got some eye drops which didn't do nothing. So I said,
'I'm going to go outside for a minute or two to see if that helps
any,' because it was cold outside. But that didn't work either.
The kid says, 'It's alright with me if they postpone it.' But I
said, no, no; we'll go ahead and play.' But of course I didn't do
no good and he beat me. It was double elimination and the next day
I won a couple matches, and then I had to play him again. And actually
I could have beat him like 10-2 or 10-3, but he was such a nice
kid I let him get seven on purpose.
other words this was after I won the '67 Stardust in Las Vegas.
It was '68 when my eyes went haywire. That's when I moved on down
to Florida. I still won three or four tournaments - they weren't
big tournaments, but they had pretty good players down there. By
'74 when I moved to Shreveport I was not playing but about 65% of
my best. That's also when I played Mosconi for a week.
Thanks again, Eddie.
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